Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chris Ofili at the New Museum—Embracing the Dark

Chris Ofili: Night and Day. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York / London. Photo: Maris Hutchinson. All works © Chris Ofili 
Go see Chris Ofili: Night and Day at the New Museum as soon as you can, because it will give you ample time to revisit the stunning show before it closes on January 25. You are probably familiar with his "elephant dung" series largely from the late '90s—full of delight, trippy patterns, and cartoon-like figures. One of them—The Holy Virgin Mary (1996)—was made a martyr-icon by Mayor Giuliani in one of the great culture war episodes of recent years (the events are retold in the companion catalogue). A strong selection of this period occupies the second floor of the exhibition, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Gary Carrion-Murayari, and Margot Norton. The candy-colored series bursts with life, flesh, and adolescent star doodles; dung balls serve as pedestal feet and sculptural nodes. The Afro series, from the early 2000s, are painted in red, green, and black, and are suffused with mysterious romance and vitality.
Chris Ofili, Ovid-Desire, 2011–12.
 Courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, New York/
London, and Victoria Miro, London. 
© Chris Ofili

On the fourth floor is an intoxicating installation 
of wildly colorful canvases hung on a lavender floral  background. Many of these paintings (primarily in classic rectangular proportions of approximately 120" x 80") are from the Ovid series, painted around 2010 while he was working on a two-year commission from London's National Gallery in response to Titian's Metamorphosis series, inspired by the Ovid poem. Many titles are hyphenates—Ovid-Destiny, -Desire, -Actaeon. Even without the references, these paintings, of effusive yellows, violets, and greens deserve to be carefully looked at. 

Several evoke the interior compositions of Matisse, with tension strung between foreground and background. The verticality of the canvases is underscored by depicting one or two figures, a geological cleave, or splitting the rectangle with the floor taking half, and the wall the rest, as in Ovid-Desire (2011—12). Ofili applies layer upon layer, so that even fields that seem solid can, upon further examination, reveal subtleties of shadowy patterns. He frequently adds elements of relief, be they blobs or dung balls or simply bulked up sheafs of paint.
Untitled (Afromuse), 1995—2005. Courtesy the
artist and David Zwirner, New York/London. © Chris Ofili 

As you enter the main third floor gallery, you encounter what seems to be a group of black paintings. After you've allowed your eyes to adjust, you notice subtle variations in what are really inky blues. Some appear reddish, some violet, some have a sheen. Shapes emerge—figures, animals, foliage. It evokes being outside in the dark, with no artificial lights on. Everything takes on a sinister feel, especially when a lynched man becomes clear. Ofili has a home in Trinidad, and he noted in a fascinating New Yorker profile: “I had found that if you put silver underneath blue, the blue sits back, like night, or glows like moonlight.” He uses ultramarine, Prussian, and cobalt blues that read like feelings as much as hues. The dark, foreboding gallery becomes, in the passage of a short amount of time, a place you want to linger in to absorb the depth and intricacies of the work.

Several sculptures are on view, as well as suites of drawings—the Afro Margin series of abstract, black and white drawings, and Afro Muses, an engaging group of cameo watercolor portraits with washy gem tone clothes. The exhibition fills the New Museum to bursting, perhaps the best use of its new building since it opened. And Ofili's oeuvre connects the present with the history of art, infusing it with a life we had perhaps forgotten.    

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall for Dance—Maturing, But Still Sweet

Vuyani Dance Theatre's Keaoleboga Seodigeng and Gladwell Rakoma. Photo: John Hogg
Fall for Dance has continued to evolve over the years. Less prominent are the super young crowds, the spontaneous whoops and hollers, and the programming that targeted these. The fare has become moderately more ambitious, less blatantly accessible, and the programs edited to run two hours or less (in early seasons, they were jam packed and exhausting in length). While the zazz and hysteria are gone, the festival is still a terrific sampling of dance from all over, at a reasonable ticket price. I caught three programs.

Black Grace, a troupe from New Zealand, performed two works choreographed by Neil Ieremia, displaying strength, precise timing, vocalization, and body percussion. The men, bare chested and muscular in Minoi (1999), embodied the fearsomeness that would surely rank them as dominant among humans. The women, wearing flowing slip dresses, moved more fluidly in the New York premiere of Pati Pati (2009); all joined in the ending. 

San Francisco Ballet's Variations for Two Couples (2012), by Hans van Manen, included Sofiane Sylve, in a welcome return to New York (in her prior time with NYCB, she exuded the glamour and fervor comparable to current company diva Sara Mearns), with Luke Ingham, Vanessa Zahorian, and Carlos Quenedit. The dance appealed in its simplicity and calm pacing to a varied and atmospheric medley of music by Britten, Piazzolla, and others. A simple straightening of a curved port de bras spoke volumes.

Two stars—Fang-Yi Sheu, lately pursuing independent projects, and Yuan Yuan Tan (a principal with San Francisco Ballet) performed Russell Maliphant's Two x Two (2009). A bit of an oddity well-suited to mature dancers looking for divergent dance vehicles, it was all about Michael Hulls' lighting—two distant boxes, with increasingly bright borders which illuminated slashing feet and hands. The women moved their arms and torsos fluently, writhed, and extended their legs on occasion, but with such eloquent dancers, it was a disappointment not to see more of their artistry.

It was kind of a big deal that Mark Morris' Words (to Mendelssohn performed live) premiered
Mark Morris Dance Group, Words. Photo: Ani Collier
at Fall for Dance, which primarily showcases tried and true works. It was the eve of the company's diverging tours to Europe and Asia. Morris explores the simplest of human moves in this work, punctuated by a silk drop carried cross stage to hide dancers' comings and goings. They wear multi-hued, unisex surplice tank tops and bermuda shorts (designed by Maile Okamura, a company member sadly absent from the stage for this performance), flattering to no one but satisfyingly functional. 

Morris' movement of course emphasizes the rhythms within the score, sometimes obviously, at other times playfully. Two men gesture conversationally; a pair of dancers take turns curving themselves in attitudes with arched backs around the other. Skipping and spinning looked novel and fun, as if we all might be able to hop onstage and join in, although Morris' dancers are experts at making it look easy. The dancers trudged and leaned on one another, exhausted children, or wound and rapidly unwound their legs, fluttering their hands. They swung invisible baseball bats, and formed lines and then rings of three, tossing their heads gleefully from side to side. Words will be performed by eight dancers on tour; 16 danced here, providing 16 interpretations of innocent pleasures.  

The third  program was all over the place, mixing genres, but feeling jagged and heavy in the process, in part due to the works chosen. South Africa's Vuyani Dance Theatre opened with Umnikelo (2011), choreographed by Luyanda Sidiya. This admirable troupe spares no effort toward gender equality, which is so far from classical dance's norm. The same shiny white tunics and pants are worn by all members, who have shaved or closely-cropped heads. When the company is not moving in unison, women partner men, lifting and suspending them in the air. The lead drummer is female, extremely unusual. The movement is an amalgam of modern, African, and martial arts, and one or more of the dancers at a given moment join in the vocalizing. While overly long for this program, the group was met with raucous applause in its choreographed ovation.

Sarasota Ballet's Nicole Padilla & Kate Honea in Frederick Ashton's Les Patineurs. Photo Gene Schiavone
If there could be a more jarring juxtaposition than shifting to Sara Mearns & Co. in Stairway to Paradise, I can't think of it. Choreographed by Joshua Bergasse (agh, Smash, you were too something for this world) this MGM number, with its nine Fosse-esque men giving us their best forced smiles and biggest jumps, features the uber ballerina—well, mainly her nonpareil gams, well-displayed in her tiny black costume with fringe and rhinestones, and capped by sparkly character shoes—stepping on the mens' hands, or being vaulted precariously in the air to be caught in various louche positions. Apart from looking fabulous, Mearns did appear self-consciously showy, which is not typical for her—or at least in this "please love me" manner. 

Trisha Brown's Son of Gone Fishin' was a tough piece to include in FFD; even for Brown fans, it's among her grittier works. Performed by her company, in a state of transition and uncertainty in the wake of her absence, it felt all the more urgent to appreciate its fleeting moments. But this piece in particular takes a certain state of mind, with its structure: A-B-C-center-C-B-A, and its fractured and at times irritating sound track. It left me impatient while trying to soak it in fully. It was another display of gender neutrality, which Brown has always put forth.
Peony Pavilion, by the National Ballet of China, with choreography by Fei Bo was an oddity. This version was adapted for the City Center stage, and focused on the lavish costumes—embroidered silk robes in jewel tones, or modernized interpretations—sheer silk with silver embellishments, and clean black and white costumes. I suppose it was gratifying to get a taste of the company, which hasn't been in New York in years. A glimpse is better than nothing, but it did seem a minor waste to see just 20 minutes of this work.

National Ballet of China_Zhu Yan and Zhang Jian_Photo by Liu Yang and Si Tinghong

The final program of FFD was another ambitious mix. Wayne McGregor|Random Dance's Far started it off with real drama—four women held flaming torches to light a couple's first several minutes of dance, exiting one by one as the stage lights warmed. To a soprano aria, it felt intoxicatingly romantic. The work extended into several more sections of groups and pairs, lit inventively in a matrix of light squares, or a wash of silvery light. McGregor pushes and tweaks the classical language expressionistically, pushing arches and developpés ever deeper, sending waves through torsos. The music (by Ben Frost) grows snarling and harsh, with wild animals tearing through now and again. I can't decide if it's a utopian or dystopian vision of future ballet.

Pontus Lidberg was commissioned by FFD to create This Was Written on Water, a duet for two of ABT's newer principals, Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside, to music by Stefan Levin for a live string trio, and will become a part of Lidberg's upcoming film. Dance is but one creative element for Lidberg, who designed the falling-leaves decor. Harriet Jung and Reid Bartelme, who just performed with Lar Lubovitch last week, created the costumes, which included an elegant jade dress that fits Boylston like a glove. The movement was fluid and pretty, particularly on these two clean-lined dancers, but apart from a flexed foot or half cartwheel, felt fairly unremarkable, and more generic than Lidberg's ground-hugging passages seen in Within.

Aakash Odedra supplied the requisite indigenous dance on the bill. A variation on Kathak, Nritta was distinguished by rapid spins, loud stomps, rising on his bare toe tips, and space-eating stage crossings. But the main attraction, and festival closer, was the Sarasota Ballet in Les Patineurs (1937) by Frederick Ashton to music by Giacomo Meyerbeer. It's been awhile since this ballet has been seen in New York. The clever adaptation of skating moves—chassées, spins, backward chugs, even humorous falls—to ballet remains irresistible and innovative. The sets and costumes, by William Chappell, add confectionary appeal, and the young, fresh-faced dancers performed sparklingly. It was a delectable and memorable close to yet another Fall for Dance.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lar Lubovitch's Cheeky Side

Alessandra Ferri & Tobin Del Cuore. Photo: Phyllis McCabe
Lar Lubovitch's choreography is so flowing and elegant that to serve it up in a kitschy vehicle such as Artemis in Athens is, well, refreshing. This production premiere takes as its bones a 2003 commission for a paean to Greek culture given by ABT, with gauzy toga-inspired costumes and Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes as leads. 

This week, at the Joyce, no less a (retired from ABT) prima ballerina than Alessandra Ferri danced the lead, but instead of a toga, she wore Naomi Luppescu's saucy interpretation of a Girl Scout uniform, in keeping with the entire cast and even the pit band, Le Train Bleu, looking like dutiful scouts rehearsing a march (but sounding grown-up, edgy, and expressive playing Christopher Theofanidis' composition). You got the sense that Lubovitch had watched Wes Anderson's Moonlight Kingdom not long before sitting down with the designer to sketch out ideas. 

Tobin Del Cuore & Alessandra Ferri . Photo: Phyllis McCabe
A cheeky intro given by a fresh-faced scout with a clipboard alluded to the Athens in the title as the town in Georgia, which would explain, in part, the change to an American woodsy milieu, populated by roving pine trees. Despite her khaki uniform, Ferri appeared as evanescent and goddess-like as ever, lithe, buoyant, and flashing her gorgeously arched feet in Girl Scout issued pointe shoes. Tobin Del Cuore was her foil, Akteon, transforming into a faun (in a skillfully toned unitard with smart white lapels) after his BSA uniform was swiftly disbanded, like Shaq ripping off his sweats. The tall Del Cuore lifted Ferri as if she were weightless. Clasping his hands in hoof-like fists, he bounded through, appropriately, stag leaps. Hunted down by a scout troop armed with bows (whose arcs served Lubovitch's fondness for curves). Akteon's image was immortalized in the heavens, twinkling in a starry sky. It was a bit of enchanting, whimsical fun. 

The Black Rose. Photo: Phyllis McCabe
The company also danced the premiere of The Black Rose, a twist on The Sleeping Beauty, whose score Scott Marshall quoted generously in his collaged score. (He mixed the hallucinogenic music for Lubovitch's renowned Mens' Stories.) Mucuy Bolles danced the central character opposite Reid Barthelme, who is blinded and crippled by the heartless Barton Cowperthwaite (sinister, roguish, and knife-limbed), who also impregnates Bolles, and hilariously chases after her newborn baby with oversized cutlery. 

A group of party-goers formed the chorus, swirling and flowing in Lubovitch's signature cursive movement. Barthelme morphed into a 60's mod-like chap with Lennon glasses and a ruffled shirt (costumes by Fritz Masten). While this dance thumbs its nose at tradition while drawing from it, its goth undertones paint a dark picture of humanity. Together, the two short dances make for a welcome respite from the bounty of mostly serious dance prevalent in New York. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Matisse Takes Manhattan

The Snail (L’Escargot), 1953. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on paper, mounted on canvas. 112 ¾ x 113” (286.4 x 287 cm). Tate. Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery, 1962. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, at MoMA through February 8

This large exhibition of Matisse's late phase paper cut-outs shows the artist's brilliant use of negative space, the reduction of a form, and his vibrant palette. It's one of those shows when words don't do justice.

Two Dancers (Deux danseurs), 1937-38. Stage curtain design for the ballet Rouge et Noir. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, notebook papers, pencil, and thumbtacks. 31 9/16 x 25 3/8” (80.2 x 64.5 cm). Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Dation, 1991. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 
Is it worth it, amid all the hyped and timed tickets? Depending on your capacity to endure crowds, yes. But investing in a catalogue might be smarter, and there's also a new children's book as well, and a dedicated, insightful website that includes such gems as this: 

Studio assistant Annelies Nelck with tracing of Apollo on the floor of the Hôtel Régina, Nice, c. 1953

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pacific Northwest Ballet—A Prodigal Daughter Bids Farewell

Tide Harmonic. Carla Korbes & Joshua Grant. Photo: Angela Sterling 
This month, we bid at least temporary farewells to two outstanding ballerinas: the incomparable Wendy Whelan, at NYCB, and the luminous Carla Korbes at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Korbes' retirement is somewhat of a surprise as she's in her early 30s, about 15 years younger than Whelan. It still feels like just yesterday when she emerged within NYCB as a soloist and was given larger roles, only to cross the continent to join PNB under Peter Boal's direction, where she has flourished and certainly danced more leading roles than if she had remained in New York. 

A Justin Peck "preview performance" of Debonair, to George Antheil's score, in PNB's program at the Joyce this week featured Korbes in an extended duet with Jerome Tisserand. (The piece will "premiere" on Nov. 7 in Seattle, which presumably means it will get a fancy party.) With that in mind, I assume the rigorous vocabulary of double tours en l'air and pirouettes will only be honed by then, and Korbes' already formidable elasticity and plushness will deepen. In addition to the traditional couple, Peck has created two sections for one woman and three men in which the woman dances alone—a rarer sight than you might imagine in recent abstract ballets. 

Laser legs in Tide Harmonic. Rachel Foster and James Moore. Photo: Lindsay Thomas

The bill began with Chris Wheeldon's 2013 Tide Harmonic, with music by Jody Talbot, who also scored Alice's Adventures. Four women bolt onstage, circling one another, unleashing developpés whipping piqués; the men rush cross stage in deep pliés. Wheeldon excels at inventive partnering, here making ample use of the women's bare legs as weapons. (Remember laser cats? Like that, but with lasers emanating from toe shoes, not paws.) On one toe, with the other bent leg, ankle gripped by her partner, a woman is rocked menacingly, side to side. Another section features two men mirroring one another, alternating phrases, circling the stage with their arms clasped congenially around one another's back. The piece exudes daring and speed, with movement experiments fitted together like a puzzle. Talbot's music is filmic in feel, with suspenseful, rushing passages, but it can also be overly aggressive for the choreography, which itself seems amped up to match the bold dynamics. Lindsi Dec stood out for her bold lines and highly arched feet.

Alejandro Cerrudo's Memory Glow, set to a selection of moody music, showed his sinewy, organic vocabulary on these fine dancers. Ample drama came from the chiaroscuro lighting, as well as the on-stage light fixtures, two of which were dragged by their cords into place to form an arc around the dancers. Cerrudo is from the post-Forsythe sock school of choreography, which extends the softness from pliable feet into the whole body, allowing torsos and limbs to ripple and react to impulses. A fleeing woman would be caught by her ankle by a pursuing man, or even by her forehead. Once again, the women wore legless leotards while the men were completely covered in polo shirts and crinkled slate pants. Women seem to be the focus of these younger ballet choreographers, but the emphasis on their bareness pushes this tendency toward objectification, even if it's meant as a tribute.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fashionable Premieres at New York City Ballet

Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in Funérailles. Photo: Paul Kolnik
Things have been so optimistic in the ballet world in recent years, that we can now reasonably expect to see good stuff on a New York City Ballet slate with four new works, even if three of them were generated with an eye toward the fashion angle of the season's gala.

Funérailles, a Liam Scarlett duet for newlyweds Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild, boasted the fanciest duds, by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen: a navy-to-white ombre chiffon gown with a sculpted bustier for her, and a navy waistcoat for him, both with gold ornamentation. The pair emerged from the deep shadows, swooped about a bit to Liszt played by Elaine Chelton, and were re-subsumed by the dusk. Short, bittersweet, no harm done, with a whiff of romantic desperation lingering in the memory. (I'm torn over whether there should be a limit on how much this pair dances together; as wonderful as they are, it seems either too comfortable a setup, or forced.)

Teresa Reichlen and gang in Clearing Dawn. Photo: Paul Kolnik

Corps dancer Troy Schumacher (read Marina Harss' New York Times piece here) was finally invited to set a piece—Clearing Dawn—for his employer after giving it quite a successful go independently; his troupe, BalletCollective, with a focus on cross-genre collaboration, gives performances soon. Thom Browne's crisp grey and white prep school costumes—revealed after massive overcoats flew from the dancers' shoulders, to return at the end—set the schoolyard recess tone, replete with a game of tag, fisticuffs, make up hugs, contests, adrenalized romps, and the subsequent onset of fatigue. Judd Greenstein's score, laced through with coursing runs and fluttering flutes, complemented the interplay. Expect Schumacher to make more work for NYCB.
Belles-Lettres. Photo: Paul Kolnik

In a short time, Justin Peck has become the go-to guy for reliably good dances. Belles-Lettres, to César Franck, with warm-hued, oddly-mixed costumes by Mary Katrantzou, is a more serious dance than many of his previous ones, with less bright gaiety and fewer visual winks. It implements the geometries that have distinguished Peck's work, placing Anthony Huxley as the lone man/poet among four couples whose darting, hummingbird movements frequently follow the fleeting piano line played by Susan Walters. The predominant form is the couple, and the news is unusual pairings: Lauren Lovette with Jared Angle (nice to see him partnering a woman proportionate in size), Ashley Laracey and Adrian Danchig-Waring, Brittany Pollack with the exuberant Taylor Stanley, and Rebecca Krohn with Tyler Angle, both alabaster cool. The first part, with its darker lighting and minor-key mood, ends after Huxley's big solo; the light turns to gold, the music morphs into a major key. It showcased Huxley's rapidograph style, but the reliance on the traditional couple felt like a minor regression from Peck's inclusionary groups.

The big attraction was Alexei Ratmansky's Pictures at an Exhibition, to Mussgorsky's suite. As in past works by the choreographer, the sets—Kandinsky's Color Study Square parsed and tweaked in Wendall Harrington's projections—root the work in a Russian context without affecting the narrative. The 16 sections, often connected in smooth segues, feature groups and solos. Sara Mearns, mercurial, whipped out arabesque turns and slammed her palms on the stage. Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle partnered, dancing to a pulsing melody, at moments evoking other duets which this frequent pairing danced, including a ship prow lift (Wheeldon's After the Rain) made more difficult with her feet on his torso instead of his thighs. The pair had earlier in the evening danced Wheeldon's This Bitter Earth, again made even more eloquent by virtue of Whelan's impending departure.
Gonzalo Garcia and company in Pictures at an Exhibition. Photo: Paul Kolnik

Four women who stomped inelegantly (and refreshingly) and windmilled their arms banded together in a gang. Underutilized principal Gonzalo Garcia was prominently featured in a duet with Tiler Peck; fairly matched physically, they often danced in unison. The similarly overlooked Abi Stafford paired with corps member Joseph Gordon, with Gretchen Smith, emergent from the corps. 

Because of Whelan's impending retirement, I kept wanting to read into the actions that revolved around her, including a moment when she knelt to scoop up some invisible thing on the ground as the company gathered around. As she was borne away by Amar Ramasar, Tyler Angle reached for her yearningly, looking bereft. After a false ensemble ending (another Ratmansky signature, seemingly), the company rushed downstage, the womens' movements—lifts with blossoming arms—punctuated the music like fireworks. It was a gleeful ending to another major, varied ballet by Ratmansky, now choreographing for both of New York's big companies, to our benefit.

I should add that the bill opened with Peter Martins' Morgen, a 2001 work to Strauss recostumed by Carolina Herrera. The set's gigantic columns, ostensibly meant to add classiness and provide places for the dancers to hide and mischievously emerge from, merely overwhelmed the dancers and made it difficult to light the stage adequately. All three women partnered with all three men, a disheartening fact once realized partway through the piece. Martins' fondness for complicated partnering, including a lot from the "baggage handler" school, and overly fussy steps that can vex these fine dancers, were in full view. The long evening would have been the perfect length without this piece, and Herrera's gowns could have been displayed in the lobby. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Kyle Abraham's Watershed

The Watershed. Photo: Ian Douglas
There's no doubt that Kyle Abraham is one of the hot choreographers of the moment, as evidenced by his residency at New York Live Arts, including a two-week run of performances, and a MacArthur fellowship last year. Not to pity him, but it's a lot of pressure for a relatively fresh talent. When many experienced choreographers are tasked with creating an evening-length work and a respectable budget, they can overshoot or fall short.

Abraham.In.Motion performed The Watershed, a full-length work with striking set elements by renowned artist Glenn Ligon. It impressed on many levels, prominently in Ligon's sets—a plywood paneled backdrop that glowed under Dan Scully's lighting, a PVC tree draped with Spanish moss and other feathery detritus; these were augmented by occasional projections of films including stereotypical casting of blacks—tapping with Shirley Temple, in porn, in blackface. Karen Young's costumes, which changed from first-half street wear evocative of modern and Colonial garb, and sleek modern tunics and leggings that we will hopefully all be wearing in a few years. 

Most significantly, Abraham's choreography—expressive, grounded, gestural but not trite, evocative of a number of movement languages—remained compelling and fresh throughout the 70-minute performance (with an intermission). Some of the visual elements were blunt reminders of African-Americans through history, including the film clips, but also the ritual sacrifice of an innocent watermelon. The company comprises dancers of varied physiques,  all powerful interpreters of the hybrid style, in particular, the dynamic Tamisha Guy, who repeatedly leapt in long strides holding her petticoat aloft. In the second half, the time-setting shifted a century forward; lighting created lines and dashes on the marley. In a demonstration of Abraham's nuance with referents, the dancers ripped open the backs of their modern uniforms, summoning thoughts of slavery and lashing—or perhaps merely ventilating themselves. 

Abraham is the source of the movement, and although he is on stage the least, one quick stage crossing spoke volumes. He began as if sashaying on a runway, and morphed into a street-wise strut. It was a brief moment that referred to gender and race expectations in a society that still largely pigeonholes people according to both.